Biggest food makers in US failing on tackling obesity, new index finds

Biggest food makers in US failing on tackling obesity, new index finds
Credit: Stephen VanHorn

The ten largest food and beverage manufacturers in the US lack the policies and action needed to tackle the nation’s rising levels of obesity and diet-related diseases and ensuring consumers have access to affordable healthy products.

So says the first-ever US Access to Nutrition Index which found that companies are not doing enough to improve the nutritional quality, pricing and distribution of their products nor to improve their practices related to responsible and transparent product marketing and labelling.

Based on their total US sales in 2016, the 10 companies included in the Index are: Coca-Cola, ConAgra, Dr Pepper Snapple, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Heinz, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever.

Nestlé leads the Corporate Profile with a score of 5.3 out of 10 for being the most transparent about its progress to help consumers eat healthier through commitments focused on making its product portfolio healthier, better informing consumers, more responsible marketing activities and other efforts.

Unilever came in second place and PepsiCo in third. ConAgra leads the Product Profile with a score of 5.8 out of 10 for carrying the healthiest product portfolio, followed by Kraft Heinz in second place and General Mills in third.

“Obesity continues to be a pressing public health concern in the United States. Its causes are complex, which means we all must play a role—including food and beverage industry leaders—to help people in the U.S. eat healthier,” said Shiriki Kumanyika, Chair of the Access to Nutrition Index Expert Group and Research Professor at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health.

“The US Access to Nutrition Index shows that while the leading food and beverage companies make some efforts to improve, they generate an estimated $160 billion in domestic sales and are not harnessing the significant opportunities they have to help families across our country make the kind of healthy food and beverage choices that will enable them to live healthier lives.”